Saturday, December 20th, 2014 10:01 pm
A critical security vulnerability has been announced for Git which affects Windows/Mac. Make sure you update your clients!

The Github announcement has a bunch of useful links to clients. If you're on a Mac and use Homebrew, that one has also been updated. I believe macports has as well, but double-check to be sure.
Saturday, December 20th, 2014 12:01 pm
By now, I have pretty much been sick (with various stuff) for three out of the last seven weeks. I also haven't really seen the sun since... Sometime in mid-November? I pretty much only left the house for working and out of these seven weeks even that wasn't the case for 9 days of sick leave. This is getting me down big time and while watching Netflix can be nice (currently binging "Call the Midwife" and "30 Rock") I am getting what in German we call Lagerkoller. Cabin fever.

Gah. I need to go for a walk later. First step : shower and get dressed.
Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 10:48 pm
Start-of-season wax clinic at Soo Finnish Nordic tonight! Was really looking forward to this, 'cuz my skis haven't really had a proper waxing since I got them -- just whatever the store put on them, plus a daily touch-up with express wax.

So, my major learning for the evening: it turns out, applying proper wax to skis does indeed make them more slippery, and therefore faster! However, it also makes you more clumsy...! Going to have to check the package to see if this side effect is listed on there. Will be in touch with the wax manufacturer if not. ;)
Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 09:37 pm
Something I've wanted to do for a while: You know those sites where you can fill in which states/counties/whatever you've visited? I'd like to generalise that. You could zoom to a particular area and it would say "counties of Wales" or "police force areas of Wales" or "wards of Salford" or whatever. Then when you chose one you could colour the regions in as you wished, and make a key. And then you could save them as SVG or PNG, both with enough metadata that you could reload them back into the site and get your editable state back. Some sort of integration with Wikimedia Commons would be nice too. What do you think?
Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 03:45 am

Posted by karen

I travel a lot and have gotten really good at packing. But I still suck at unpacking. Mind you I’m not sure that there are unpacking tips.  It’s a boring task that involves making sure everything is put away properly so that I can be good at packing for my next trip.   I’ve been home nearly a week and I’m not finished.  The cables and chargers will have to wait until tomorrow as the six currencies that I sorted through this morning have killed my desire to sort out anything else.

I’m sure I’ll be finished before I have to fly again next Monday…

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 01:59 am
Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 2, number 7
15th December 2014: the strangest whim
What I’ve been up to

I've been dividing my time between writing, contacting potential literary agents, and being asleep-- this last because they're trying me with a new antidepressant. So far it seems to be going well, but time will tell.

Two special offers for your attention, especially if you're looking for last-minute ideas for presents:

1) Because my partner Kit and I are still both too ill to work, I've reissued Time Blew Away Like Dandelion Seed, a collection of over a hundred of my poems. You can buy the paperback from Lulu. A signed and numbered hardback edition is also in the works: I'll let you know when it's ready. (The best regular way of supporting Gentle Readers, and me, financially is still through Patreon.)

2) My good friend Katie, who is a talented photographer as well as a nursing student, was due to study in the Netherlands next semester, but then she was unexpectedly sent to Finland instead. The Finnish cost of living is rather greater than the Dutch, so she is selling prints of her work to make up the budget shortfall. Please do go and check them out.

A poem of mine


When once I stop and take account of these
that God has granted me upon the earth,
the loves, the friends, the work, that charm and please
these things I count inestimable worth;
when once I stop, I learn that I am rich
beyond the dreams of emperors and kings
and light is real, and real these riches which
exceed the worth of all material things...
   when thus I stop, I cannot understand
   when few and feeble sunbeams cannot find
   their way into that drab and dreary land,
   the darkness of the middle of my mind.
yet darkness cannot take away my joy,
for night can only hide, and not destroy.

Something wonderful

The City of Westminster is one of the towns that make up Greater London. In 1672, its population was growing very fast, and builders were anxious to buy land for housing. George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, owned a mansion in Westminster called York House, and he agreed to sell it for demolition and redevelopment. The price he named was £30,000-- around £6 million in modern money-- plus one extra condition: all the streets built on the land had to be named after him.

The developers agreed, and set to work. Soon they had built George Street, Villiers Street, Duke Street, and Buckingham Street, at which point they were running out of naming possibilities, with one small alley yet to be named. Thus, in a moment of desperate lateral thinking, they gave it the ingenious name of Of Alley.

Something from someone else

Chesterton wrote quite a few poems about depression. I like this one particularly because it starts humorously-- literally using gallows humour-- but once it's drawn you in, it ends on a serious point about hope. Ballades are a difficult form, but Chesterton makes it look easy, though in fact he's made it even harder for himself by his choice of rhymes. It's conventional to address a prince at the end of a ballade, who is often assumed to be the Prince of Darkness (i.e. Satan): thus the end of the poem is about the downfall of evil, and perhaps the Second Coming.

by G K Chesterton

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall.
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours— on the wall—
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me... After all
I think I will not hang myself today.

To-morrow is the time I get my pay—
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall—
I see a little cloud all pink and gray—
Perhaps the rector's mother will NOT call—
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way—
I never read the works of Juvenal—
I think I will not hang myself today.

The world will have another washing day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H. G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational—
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small—
I think I will not hang myself today.

Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even today your royal head may fall—
I think I will not hang myself today. 


Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at, and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. ISSN 2057-052X. Love and peace to you all.

Sunday, December 14th, 2014 03:58 pm

Posted by karen

Fast food companies in Japan have thrown themselves into turning Christmas into a commercial holiday.  This year’s food offering from Burger King doesn’t appeal to me as much as the “traditional” KFC one and it’s not just because of the terrible pun.  And really “mush” is an awful thing to shorten mushroom to if you want me to eat your food.

Burger King Christmas Food

Burger King Christmas Food

I’m a little horrified that I live in a country that is trying to turn fast food into a Christmas tradition.


Sunday, December 14th, 2014 01:28 pm
I can remember going through that stage fairly clearly. I was about five, and I'd read a cracker joke at a party that said:
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Major who?
Major road ahead.
This is because there used to be road signs that said "major road ahead", but I didn't know this-- they'd been obsolete before I was born. I assumed it meant that a major in the army rode ahead of the rest of the soldiers. That seemed a bit odd, but when I told my parents the joke, they laughed. Can anything compare to that moment when you make someone else laugh on purpose? So I told the joke again the next day, and it somehow wasn't funny any more. Clearly, then, I had to learn new jokes, but how? I determined to experiment by changing the joke slowly to see whether I could work out what made the original joke funny. My first attempt was:
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Major who?
Major curtains.
Of course when I told my parents that joke they laughed as well because of the surrealism, which made constructing a hypothesis about the nature of humour rather difficult.
Friday, December 12th, 2014 04:12 pm
Not dead! Just busy with life. But Fu is in the process of converting the widgets on /customize to something less ridiculous, which gives me time to prod some of the problems that have been stumping me.

1) Preserving search results
The order of actions to generate a page of results from the advanced search, as I have it right now, goes like this:
User checks boxes to indicate choices -> user presses 'search' button -> button triggers POST actions -> a query is generated as one of these actions -> query goes to worker -> worker performs search -> worker sends back a list of theme ids

The problem is that POST data is lost on reload/page change, so when you click to see the second page of results (if there are more than one page), all of the query and the results vanish. Most of our other ways of grabbing a set of layouts (by base style, by designer, etc) append the query string to the URL, which is then hidden from the user via routing, but even just the list of search elements has the potential to get unwieldy fast (and the return list is worse)

2) The auto-categorizer
I don't have this working yet because it's not necessary for the new search, just... nice, given we have almost fifteen hundred themes (!!!). The script needs to pull hexcodes out of the style layers (which is all text to the perspective of anything not the S2 compiler). That seems to say 'regex' to me but I don't know if that's safe/the best way to do it.
Friday, December 12th, 2014 08:56 am
Sick at home all day, you say, human? Awesome.

Read more... )
Friday, December 12th, 2014 08:40 am
Conjunctivitis in both eyes.

Fuck you, body.

Going back to work for two days might not have been the best idea ever, but there's no need to punish me for that.
Thursday, December 11th, 2014 10:04 pm
For an English Lit GCSE assignment I wrote the diary of a policeman who was following Wordsworth around the Lakes in the belief he was a Napoleonic spy. At one point our hero attempts to get the suspect to prove he's a poet by quoting the piece he's working on. It goes:

"Behold her, single in the field,
Reaping and singing by the hedge;
Reaping and singing by herself;
It really sets my teeth on edge.
Her notes are flat; it gives me pain
To hear her solitary strain."

"If she improves," he adds, "I may revise the stanza."
Thursday, December 11th, 2014 07:22 pm
Today I coughed so hard I nearly vomited.

My life is so glamorous. Is it the weekend yet?
Thursday, December 11th, 2014 02:32 am
A few years ago, I collected 110 of my poems into a book; I'm bringing it back into print for a few months in order to pay bills since my partner and I are both too sick to work. You can buy it from Lulu in the UK, US, and many other countries-- usually it's US$20, about £12, but at present it's discounted to US$17, about £11.

There will also be a numbered and signed proper hardback edition of fifty; I'll be doing that through Kickstarter and announcing it later this week.

Let me know if you have questions. And tell your friends!

Reader comments:
“It's happy, sad, funny, thought-provoking and occasionally groan-worthy.”
“Overflowing with beauty, sadness and joy.”
Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 02:37 pm
It's time for another question thread!

The rules:

- You may ask any dev-related question you have in a comment. (It doesn't even need to be about Dreamwidth, although if it involves a language/library/framework/database Dreamwidth doesn't use, you will probably get answers pointing that out and suggesting a better place to ask.)
- You may also answer any question, using the guidelines given in To Answer, Or Not To Answer and in this comment thread.
Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 12:15 am

Posted by karen

It’s December and time for my annual moan about the cold.  I arrived home last night to find that Tokyo has become just as cold as Ireland.  I like to tease my Mum about how cold her house is but I will admit that I miss the electric blanket I used there.  At the minute I’m sitting on my heated floor wearing fluffy PJs and wrapped in a fluffy blanket and I am still not warm.  Once I get warm enough to put down my lapwarmer / laptop I’m going to put up the Christmas Tree.  And even if it’s cold I’m happy to be home.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 09:32 am
Summa cum laude. I am so proud of the husband.
Sunday, December 7th, 2014 10:50 pm
If you were having issues with reinstalls or database updates on the Dreamhack machine, you should be good to go now if you retry what was failing before. The code needed a new version of the Locale::Codes distribution, meaning that wouldn't work. It should work now!

(Yes, reinstalls work again; I've been meaning to announce it here for ages, but I've kept forgetting. They work now by reinstalling from your personal Git repositories; there's currently no means to automatically nuke those repositories and re-fork, so if you need to do that, let me know.)
Sunday, December 7th, 2014 07:26 pm

Since 2013, now on DreamWidth!

GET READY FOR WRIGHT-A-THON 2014 on [community profile] pw_kink_meme!


Fic, art, graphics, videos, or anything else you can think of. Not just for kink. Gen welcome!

Dates to be announced, but the last Wright-a-thon was 24-31 December. For more details from last year's click here.

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